The Pine Creek football team went into the locker room with an 11-point lead over the one team in the state that has had their number for over 10 years.
But Valor Christian sat down at halftime and said, “don’t blink.”
If you did, you missed an 80-yard touchdown run by Gavin Sawchuk to open the third quarter, sparking a Valor comeback to defeat Pine Creek 24-14.
“We like to say, just don’t blink,” said Valor junior Jack Howell. “Whatever happens, just keep playing. It doesn’t matter if we’re up 14 or down 14, we are going to play the same way. We got off to a rough start but we came out and we knew we could win and do our thing.”
It was a tale of two halves for Pine Creek, who effectively stopped the Valor run game in the first half, flexed its muscle with a 29-yard touchdown pass from Gavin Herberg to Eddie Kyle, and an 80-yard rushing touchdown from David Moore III.
But a Valor switch at quarterback, putting Howell under center, and Pine Creek miscues allowed the Eagles to earn their fourth straight win over PC dating back to 2010.
“Valor makes you do some things that gets you out of character,” said Pine Creek coach Todd Miller. “We had a long field against a great team (in the second half) and they had two long running plays that kind of broke our back a little bit and we just couldn’t stop them at the end.”
Howell ran for a 55-yarder midway through the third quarter to give Valor a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
Sawchuk, a sophomore who has 11 offers, including six Big 10 programs, Oregon, Colorado and Colorado State, put the game on ice with a short touchdown run with a minute left after the Eagles went for it on 4th and 3 in the red zone.
“I think we played a little bit not to lose instead of playing to win and that’s my responsibility,” Miller said. “We have to do some things better and open it up a little bit and let our kids go and play.”
Miller could not confirm if the Pine Creek-Valor Chrisitan rivalry would continue into the next cycle. He said his team still needs another game, but isn’t sure if they will play Valor.
And despite it being a packed house at District-20 stadium for Thursday night’s game, Miller isn’t sure if Pine Creek can classify Valor as a rival until they beat them.
- Lindsey Smith email@example.com
“If you want to watch football the way it’s supposed to be played, you watch (Valor). And our kids have to match them,” Miller said. “We have a ways to go, but we’re getting there. We grew up tonight and our kids fought to the very end, no one gave up.
“This teaches a lot about character and a little humility all the way through and then we go back to the drawing board on Monday.”